Identifying Cyberattacks in the Transportation Industry: A User’s Manual

The transportation industry has become increasingly digitised with a comprehensive range of data flowing across the system for tracking and monitoring the fleets. As more and more devices and control systems are being connected online, the risk of cyberattacks also intensifies which eventually increases the potential likelihood of damage to the physical assets.

To put it simply, no industry or business is completely free from cyber-attacks including the transportation companies that suffer from great loss because of it. Even many reputed fleet companies have also been a victim of cyberattacks, pushing them into becoming a national headline.

Dealing with cyberattacks is not an easy job as a company has to rebuild their reputation after such events. A majority of enterprises have reported how they also employed technology to guard themselves against such vulnerabilities and still failed. Hence, cyberattacks are sometimes referred to as “silent killers.” The cyberattacks in recent times are so complex and advanced that it is nearly impossible to sometimes spot them. However, few signs can help you identify cyberattacks which others may go unnoticed:

Software Vendor Gets Attacked

The most common way for cyberattacks to penetrate computer networks is via web traffic. Thus, it becomes important for companies to keep a check on the web traffic to detect any vulnerabilities in the early stages. Now, this can be a little difficult to do unless advanced software or professional services are employed. If the software vendor releases updates, it is usually a sign of zero-day threat, a type of virus or malware which is not yet possible to detect through antivirus software.

If this is the case with you, you must follow the vendor’s guidance. Disabling access to the software, cleaning the patch serves and scanning other servers should be the first course of action to make sure that the attack has not proceeded further laterally.

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System’s Performance Has Deteriorated

If you hear your employees talking about how slow their software system is running or they are having issues opening a specific application or website, then do not overlook this major sign. It is another common sign of cyberattack. Cyberattacks cases have been increased during COVID-19 times wherein employees are working from home. In other terms, employees working from the office are less likely to face cyber attacks in comparison to employees working remotely.

When using a personal computer, employees are more responsive to web traffic or applications which they usually would not connect while working in an office. If employees are facing performance issues with a cloud-based software system, it is important to inform the vendor about the downgrade in the system’s performance. Also, employees should instantly take the system offline and off the company’s network. If a user account has also degraded, the account should be disabled till the issue is solved.

Attacks in Business Emails

Cybercrimes do not always happen on the bigger scale as sometimes, criminals attempt to hack the transactions between fleet companies and their customers. For instance, a customer can receive fake emails in the name of the company which may ask them to share the bank information that he/she is using for making payments to the company.

This displays that the customer has been a victim of a phishing attack wherein he/she must have opened some link and entered the ID and password after which the hacker began intercepting emails. It is very easy for hackers to attack business emails. However, this can be easy to defend in comparison to other attacks if people are well-trained and informed about such events.

Suspicious Network Activity

Cybercriminals are even making use of artificial intelligence (AI) to cause attacks on a huge scale with a great level of sophistication. In these cases, it is very difficult for transportation companies to check and stop the breaches. Buying a certain software that can help with monitoring suspicious network activity on servers or file systems is a beneficial step. Usually, this software warns about the issue and if configured, prevents a compromise unless an administrator investigates it.

Many fleet companies reported how this kind of software has alerted them about various malware found on the PCs that would otherwise have kept running quietly in the system. The source of infection can then be recognized followed by cleaning the system before any further damage is done.


This is one of the most serious cyberattacks that involve the encryption of your files. Ransomware is a lucrative attack wherein the hacker threatens the victim to publish his/her data or even blocks access to it permanently unless the hacker is paid a ransom. Many times, hackers block access in such a way that it is impossible even for a professional to access it. Thus the encrypted files can not be accessed unless a ramson is given to decrypt them.

If you get notified with a message that your file is encrypted, chances are that the damage is already done. The company’s website can also be encrypted which prevents the customers from visiting it. The easiest way to handle ransomware is to prevent it in the first place or else restoring the files using a disaster recovery system is also helpful.

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